Rutgers Professor: School Not Prioritizing Instructional Resources

Tuition increases in higher education have a generation of students graduating with debt along with a degree. At the same time, state universities themselves are being financially squeezed, no longer mostly subsidized by the states they represent, and professors are being asked to take on larger classes and scrimp on baccalaureate programs. That’s the case with Rutgers University, but Rutgers has Division I athletics. That department got $48 million last year. Rutgers Associate Professor Charles Haberl told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that Rutgers has not been prioritizing its teaching staff with its financial resources.

“I’ll tell you what, they’re not prioritizing and that is what we refer to as instructional resources of the faculty,” said Haberl. “I’ve been at Rutgers eight years now and I’ve seen a number of my senior colleagues retire and during that time, their lines — which were good, tenured lines — have been converted into non-tenure track lines or even part-time lines.”

Within the contract negotiations, there has been talk about taking tenured track lines and making them adjunct or part-time staff. Haberl said that faculty members have been forced to teach larger classes and classes are incorporating less individualized instruction.

“It also means that they’re less willing to compromise with their supervisors and also with the students. So they’re very concerned about their instructional ratings from their students and they need to cut corners,” said Haberl.

College students have been rating their professors and in an op-ed, Haberl said that professors are being pressured to make courses less challenging and are making it a popularity contest.

“Basically what happens is if a professor assigns too much work, if a professor develops a reputation of being especially demanding,” Haberl said, “well then students go to their and they say, ‘I don’t want to take a class with her. She’s too demanding. I’m going to find someone who is more on my level.'”

While Haberl said the administration hasn’t told professors to change their content or type of instruction, he said it’s well known that students check rating sites to see what others have said about instructors. Haberl also said that opinions spread through word of mouth as well.

In regard to athletics, Haberl said that athletics bring in a lot of money for schools in several other states around the country, but not as much to New Jersey. He said the administration projects the Rutgers Athletics Department will have a loss of $184 million over the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, the administration says most of the money the school receives goes toward research. Haberl said that the largest budget item is salaries and that an increasing amount of that money is concentrated in the upper echelon of administration and personnel.

“We have 79 administrators who make over $275,000 a year and meanwhile the level of the instructional faculty, the salaries, are decreasing because a larger and larger number of them are being assigned part-time positions,” said Haberl.